As many of us head to warmer climes for the winter, it is important to keep a few things in mind.

Here, six things snowbirds should keep in mind before they take flight.

1.  Make sure to know your province's rules for keeping your health insurance.

2.  Know the limitations of your health insurance coverage – you will need extra insurance to cover out-of-country health expenses.

3.  Go to your doctor before you travel to discuss the health issues that may occur where you're going and how to avoid them – Zika virus, chikungunya virus, yellow fever and malaria are some examples. Some illnesses are preventable with vaccines, others by avoiding mosquito bites. In some places, you should not drink the tap water. Get educated and get ready – and do so, depending on the destination, at least a few weeks to a few months before travel, as some prophylactic medications take time to take effect.

4.  Learn about the resources at your destination and have a plan in case you need medical assistance.

5.  Make sure to have a list of your medications, doctors and significant medical issues to bring with you in case you need medical assistance. This is helpful at home but essential when travelling.

6.  And, of course, bring things you will need – medications, sunscreen, insect repellent; and consider things you may need, depending on your health history, such as analgesia, anti-nausea medication and allergy medication.

Dr. Zachary Levine is an assistant professor in the faculty of medicine at McGill University Health Centre and medical correspondent for AM740 (a ZoomerMedia property).

A version of this article appeared in the November 2017 issue with the headline, "A Snowbird's Rx," p. 27.

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